Here Comes The Sun, Hello Spring
Spring is in the air, the season of fertility and new growth. Can you feel it breathing its breezes and butterflies around you?
I hear the church bells ringing, and an image pops into my head: I am looking at a tree in our hillside garden. A stream of water is flowing from its base, making the twists and turns of tree root shapes. It tumbles down the verge, and over the side of the terrace. Life is waking up. It is everywhere.
Time to wake up! What growth do you want to see? What would please you most right now?
Observe the springy glow on our homeside hillside!
In previous weeks, the prospect of Spring had me ready to crawl back into bed. Of course, the commencement of this fertile season meant I should make all kinds of stuff happen. After all, the world has turned round a sufficient amount that I no longer see my breath in the air. That must mean it is time to purge my mind, body, home, and life of the extraneous.
Then I remembered that these things are all made up and resolved to languish in a duvet nest until further notice. Then a child jumped on my head.
Well, that didn’t take long.
Bit by bit, I did get the urge to consider what my authentic desires for growth might be. So I gave it a whirl.
It is not always easy to figure out what you really, truly want. Often, the moment you stop and try to focus on your desires, what comes out is a list of things you would like to get done, or to have done already. For instance…
Me: So, Alexis what would please you right now?
Me: Well, let’s see….Time to declutter the house. Time to try and sell baby gear that we no longer need. Time to create better systems for organising life. Time to lose weight. Time to smarten up. Time to look for new projects and new income. Time to study. Time to really spend some quality one to one time with my husband and the kids.
Me: Nope. That is just a list of things you think you should do. Tell me, what do you really want in this exact moment?
Now, I find myself doing this from time to time, and it ends with two results: a longer list of things to do; a feeling of dissatisfaction with the way things are. Not a fabulous energising result, then.
The Problem-Solution Pattern
Back when I studied text and narrative at the University of Glasgow, we learned about typical discourse patterns that exist in our literature, and our thinking. These patterns are structures for the way we assign meaning in our communications. Michael Hoey identified a number of these prevalent in English texts, and noted that there are different kinds of pattern popular in different societies. The presence of a common discourse pattern reflects a predilection for a particular kind of reasoning about the world.
I notice that the problem-solution story is very prevalent in our society. We just love to analyse, measure, assess, solve, and evaluate. So, it makes sense that you get sucked into a problem-solution mindset on a regular basis. Perhaps this is where the proactive, goal setting, to do list fetish comes from, which is such a common approach to the stuff of daily life in our society.
For instance, you can take just about any sensible personal desire and turn it into a bewildering series of actions to be taken. Here are a few examples:
Desire: I would love to sleep more….
- Problem: BUT my baby wakes up at night
- Solution: I could use gentle sleep training, less gentle sleep training, feed the kids soporific foods, create elaborate bedtime routines, pray for change, pick up and put down, get husband to take over, run away, hire a sleep trainer,
- Action: Meh, I guess I am pretty much OK with this
- Evaluation: You are not trying hard enough, go back and do a bunch of techniques until you get a result no matter what.
Ooh this is fun. Let’s do another one.
Desire: I would love to make beautiful nourishing food for my children…
- Problem: BUT my child only wants to eat bananas and breakfast cereal, not a wide range of healthy foods from kale to kefir to kumquats
- Solution: Ban all forms of breakfast cereal, involve him in shopping for, cooking, and growing food, read books about children eating healthy food, watch TV shows featuring healthy food, buy healthier cereal, always have bananas, delegate all responsibility to husband, run away
- Action: who wants a bowl of wholegrain alfalfa crunchies? OK fine. Weetabix it is, and a banana. Super
- Evaluation: When this goes wrong it will be all your fault (ouch)
It works with things like appearance too!
Desire: I would love to be fit, (somewhat) lithe, and strong…
- Problem: BUT my stomach is too big, I feel unattractive, and I am getting OOOLLLLDDDDEEERR wah!
- Solution: Get up early and do yoga routine, followed by core abs, run, run, run, and stop time. Ok, well buy lots of lotions and potions that promise to do that very thing. Buy new clothes. Combine exercise and housework. Get the kids to ride off at speed on their bikes and chase them. Then have sex. Then have a makeover, and a bath, and a pedicure, and a manicure, and don’t forget to pluck your eyebrows, epilate your legs, and wax your nether regions.
- Action: bit of yoga, bit of running after kids, bit of falling for empty product promises, bit of sex.
- Evaluation: You could still lose a few pounds, you know. Plus, you are even older than when you started.
Desire: I would love to live in simplicity and order…
- Problem: BUT my house has things in it that I wish were somewhere else
- Solution: Simplify, declutter, buy better storage, reorganise, teach the children to tidy and organise until they are full self-cleaning minions of orderliness, get husband to build beautiful storage solutions, buy more plastic boxes, chuck out everything, whether it belongs to me or not, pass on old things to new owners, alphebatise, colour code, and above all, stop the everyone from messing it all up again.
- Action: throw some stuff out, tidy a room, feel proud. Watch as it gets messy almost straight away.
- Evaluation: well, that didn’t last long. Hide under bed. Find a lot of dustballs.
It is truly a marvel to see how fast a wish for sleep, to nourish others, to tend to your health and sexiness, to create orderliness can turn into a problem. Incredible too, how many solutions there are to choose from, of which many require outlaying time, money, and energy that are not available at that moment, and often do not have the promised or predicted effect anyway.
When my mind and body are asking to have their needs attended to, and I feel depleted, this is what seems to pop up out of the cosmos: the definition of problems and projected solutions. I am sure that, this is one reason why the world sometimes feels so busy. Our problems may have solutions, but often the relentless pursuit of resolution, wholeness, and happiness can take us further from well-being.
In fact, we are surrounded by advertisements which inform us about the problems we barely considered we had! From the point of view of putting energy in the bank, giving attention to these constructions can sap our dwindling reserves, just when we want a little boost.
Not that there is anything wrong with genuine problem solving. It is unnecessary problem creation I am on the look out for.
Uncovering Authentic Desires
I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is not the stuff of genuine desire. I am going to go beyond that and say that much of what is written about bettering your parenting, body, home, and work, is meant with the best of intentions, and useful to some, sometimes, in some situations. However, all too often, what we get from our society, which prizes the rational, the productive, and the effective, has not got a lot to offer in terms of identifying and nurturing healthy everyday desires. What we seem to have instead are objectives, passions, and goals. Not to mention that we are encouraged to go big or go home. Do it on a large scale, or it isn’t really worth it, it won’t be going anywhere!
This means that, rather than living in deep appreciation for the many wonderful opportunities, material goods, and cosmic gifts that we already receive on a daily basis, we get caught up in what might be, who we might become, what we might do tomorrow or next year. These thought balls get lobbed around our collective unconscious and insinuate themselves. Then we get so worn out figuring with all these pesky mental globules, that appreciating anything seems too much of a stretch. Then we say, I am tired, and you know there is never enough time just to be, just to look after myself. I don’t even know who I am or what I want right now.
Thinking Outside The Box
For me, the question of desire has to come back to a level of understanding that does not come from out there in society, not from the habits and fetishes that are prized at present, not from received wisdom in any form.
Genuine desire is personal, quirky, and does not fit into a problem and solution pattern. Figuring out what you really, absolutely need comes from an intelligence within you, which does not have to correspond to identifying a lack, then taking a range of actions to address the situation in an efficient manner. We are not cars to be serviced by mechanics, we are complex organisms with spirits, with whims, we are animals with instincts, and we are beings who might benefit from many varieties of interaction, stimulation, and growth in all kinds of non-standard forms and patterns.
When it comes to taking action you desire, then whatever it is can be an end in itself. It can be small, minuscule choices, or grand designs. There is no size and shape requirement. No measurements, analysis, no specifications. There do not need to be elaborate plans, as the satisfaction of a desire in the moment can be a spontaneous meshing of opportunity and fancy.
This is self care. It is not self-assessment. It is not self-judgement. It is pure attention to your own joyfulness, for its own sake. It is honouring your own wellbeing in the moment.
Down The Rabbit Hole
As I became accustomed to observing my thoughts and the forms that travelled through my mind on a daily basis, I became aware of just how many of them there are. Also, not all of them make conventional sense. I got interested in the seeming random stuff that entered my skull, and that DID serve me. I found that I was helping myself, without knowing how or why or where a particular notion or image would turn up. For instance, I had a vision of me swimming in a pool, being supported by a giant turtle, which reassured me when I was in labour with my youngest. Why not pay a little attention to these images, colours, textures, and feelings? What were they saying?…
…I am talking a little attention here, not analysis or deep interpretation, not directing or getting bound up in thought, just drifting into a dream…
I continued the conversation with myself thus…
Me: Hello there, quiet corners of my conscious self, what would you like more of in our life?
It’s cool if it doesn’t make sense or appears well thought out because I get that you are coming from the heart. I know you don’t do lists and goals and such. A seeming random abstract notion would be fine…
Me: RED: YES. RED.
Me: Well, I could change my blog to red right now. I can adorn myself with these nice, red, clothes. Ooh I like it. Yes that does feel nice.
Me: OK. I could put some music on….Satie? too sad. OK. Rocky Horror it is….
Me: (holds up image of rather mystical looking woman in manner of ancient fantasy land character)
Me: I’m a sweet transvestite…..Sorry, I was distracted by the awesomeness. What have you got there….I am not sure this is a career move….
Well, let’s see. Oh she’s WISE.
Me: (image of Kevin Smith as Silent Bob rolling eyes in assent)
Me: She has time for what she does and needs to do, because she is centred in a reality where life is not expected to run twenty times faster than it actually does,
She does not believe she has to be everything to everyone all the time,
She can nurture herself and others
She does not try to do, be, and become too many things, and feeling not enough,
She is fierce and strong,
She is not perfect, and does not need to be,
She takes nourishment for herself,
She can work charms and mystical awesomeness,
Sounds good. I want to cultivate greater understanding, compassion, physical health and wisdom to my life!
I wonder if I could give myself permission to explore this.
Some Concluding-ish Thoughts On The Practice Of Desire Fulfillment
I made a little video…
Now, the thing to remember is that desires are not meant to be turned into checklists. Turning desires into ‘have-tos’ zaps all their power to energise, clarify, and assist us in our lives. Moulding a desire into a need for productivity and rushing through it all does this too. Desires are suggestions regarding what I might enjoy.
Self care in the form of fulfilling small desires does not always have to wait until the children are in bed or at school, does not depend on your partner’s schedule, does not depend on you being at work or at home, or the recommendations of experts. Self-care in the form of attending to our desires is available in many moments if we simply ask ourselves what would be pleasing, in and of itself, in the time and space I am inhabiting at this very moment.
At the end of the day, happiness does not come from creating a perfect set of circumstances, or performing a particular set of behaviours. It comes from within, where there is nothing in particular getting in the way of it. For this reason, it is best not to put too much thought into the question of what you want to create or not. Neither to think too much about thoughts. The point is to allow yourself awareness of small desires, and permission to fulfill wishes just because you can, and not because it is improving, transformative, productive, or with a set agenda. Though, you may find that listening to yourself and your needs may well pay greater dividends in time.
By listening to small desires, I can look past habitual behaviours and make choices which are better for me, or see what I can be grateful for already. I have more fun, more lightness. The feeling that I get to live in, when I am more attentive to what I have genuine need of, is so much more rewarding than the feeling of checking an item off a list (oooh baby and you KNOW that does feel good, doesn’t it!).
The feeling of, a small genuine desire fulfilled is a little charge of energy which keeps me company as I set about my business. It helps to put me in touch with where my feet next need to land, and what to give attention to. What’s more is that giving to myself leads to having more energy to share with others, and to care for my family.
I usually leave my posts with an invitation, but today I challenge you to look at what is hanging out quietly in the wacky and abstract world of your consciousness and see what it suggests for you!
Have fun exploring your desires and do come share your experiences with me by posting a comment here or on the Mamajestic Facebook Group.
What kinds of conversations do you have with yourself? What would you like to ask your heart? Do you now think I am a crazy lady?
Let me know!